Special teams matter. Final Score: 4-2 Canucks
Going into the first matchup of the season against the Canucks, I was very interested to see how the Oilers would step up to the challenge. Vancouver started out the season like a house on fire, but then pulled off a horrible 180 that saw them winning only once in a 13-game stretch. Then, after losing basically everything in every way, the Canucks turned things around again by winning four of their last five coming into tonight’s matchup with the Oilers. When you’re going up against a wildcard like that, it’s hard to know what you expect. To start, it looked like both teams needed some time to figure each other out as the shots and chances to score were basically equal after one period of play. While both teams had a few decent chances to score, they also got the goaltending needed to keep zeros on the board through 20 minutes.
For as tight as the first period was, things really opened in the second. The Oilers grabbed themselves a lead on a nice play by Khaira and Nugent-Hopkins, but then shot themselves in the foot by starting an endless parade to the penalty box, though the calls against were pretty weak. Even so, the Oilers let the wheels fall off completely when they were down a man, giving Vancouver all of the offence they’d need to close things out. To be it lightly, it’s pretty Gord damned hard to win hockey games when you’re allowing three goals against with the man advantage. Things didn’t get much better at five-on-five as the Oilers struggled to get anything offensively. Even with Alex Chiasson scoring late in the third period to make things a bit more interesting, it was too little too late for the Oilers as they let too much time pass before finding a way to play with some desperation.
Frankly, the Oilers deserved the result. Now, let’s forget about this one and move on. See you Tuesday.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring with his 11th goal of the year after he took a beautiful backhanded pass by Khaira in the slot and quickly buried it past Markstrom. Nuge ripped the snapshot to his favourite spot on the low-stick side and the goalie didn’t have a chance.
- Alex Chiasson kept his heater going as he collected his 15th goal of the year late in the third period on a perfect setup from Connor McDavid in the slot. Unfortunately, it was too little too late for the Oilers but Chia’s son’s second goal in as many games made things a little bit more interesting, at least.
- Jujhar Khaira kept his hot hand rolling after he picked up a beautiful assist on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ second-period goal. Khaira picked up the puck in traffic and pulled off a no-look backhander right to RNH’s stick and into the back of the net. Beauty set up by Jujhar.
- Connor McDavid kept his point streak going with the assist on Alex Chiasson’s goal, but he did not look overly happy about it. The captain got checked hard tonight and he looked frustrated at times, something we don’t often see.
- Mikko Koskinen looked human tonight as he got beat with two goals he’d probably want back, though it’s hard to blame him on any of them considering how ineffective the team in front of him was on the penalty kill. With how good Koskinen has played lately, you have to give the guy some rope and expect that he’ll bounce back on Tuesday. Koskinen finished the night with 26 saves and a .897 save%.
- I liked Jesse Puljujarvi’s game a lot tonight. He was physical, used his speed to drive the puck wide, and looked much more engaged overall than he’s been at times. Hitchcock gave him a bump up to the first line in the third period and I’d say it was well deserved, especially relative to the way some of his teammates performed.
- I really like Caleb Jones’ game so far. He makes smart choices with the puck and his ability to break out of his own zone is very much appreciated. The Oilers need more guys that can connect on passes the way he can.
- Oilers had a solid night in the faceoff circle, winning 58% of the draws they took.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Alex Edler tied the game at one after he got set up on a tee at the point. The Canucks got a weak penalty call go their way with Caleb Jones getting a ridiculous call going against him and they made no mistake on it. Were you surprised? I wasn’t.
- Brock Boeser gave the Canucks their first lead of the night after he scored a second straight powerplay goal. Kevin Gravel got caught for a weird delay of game call after one-handing the puck over the glass (with help), and the Oilers ended up getting burned for it.
- Completing the powerplay hat trick, Elias Pettersson put the Canucks up by a pair of goals after he sniped a wrister from the circle that beat Koskinen high over the shoulder. You’ve gotta give the kid credit, he can fire the puck and he scored on a hell of a shot.
- The Oilers let themselves get way too frustrated by the Canucks tonight and it really affected their ability to get anything going offensively. They kept trying to force the pretty plays to work rather than keeping things simple and looking for a greasy goal.
- Brutal second period: Too many penalties, too many shots against, too many goals allowed.
- Not a good night for the Oilers’ penalty kill as they allowed three goals on five chances against. They went from having the lead to trailing in the blink of an eye because they spent too much time in the box and couldn’t lock things down on the PK.
- I find it highly suspect that the Oilers only got one powerplay chance tonight. You’re telling me that the Canucks only made one infraction in 60 minutes? Give me a break.
- I thought the Oilers were trying to make one too many passes before throwing the puck at the net, especially early on. They passed up plenty of shooting opportunities early by trying to force passes through that had no chance of connecting.
- I guess I had too much fun making with my win cast the other night. #BeetCast is coming up in a few minutes and you can join in the conversation over on my Twitter account.
|01:40||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11) ASST: Jujhar Khaira (10), Adam Larsson (10)||1-0|
|11:49||Vancouver||PPG – Alexander Edler (3) ASST: Brock Boeser (10), Bo Horvat (16)||1-1|
|14:46||Vancouver||PPG – Brock Boeser (12) ASST: Ben Hutton (10), Jacob Markstrom (1)||1-2|
|03:04||Vancouver||PPG – Elias Pettersson (17) ASST: Nikolay Goldobin (16), Brock Boeser (11)||1-3|
|15:50||Edmonton||Alex Chiasson (15) ASST: Connor McDavid (30), Darnell Nurse (10)||2-3|
|18:18||Vancouver||EN – Bo Horvat (16) ASST: Antoine Roussel (11), Alexander Edler (9)||2-4|
It's a shot on net. What more do you want?
— Kevin Radowits, Oilers' next GM (@sportsjunkie007) December 17, 2018
Nuge: I ❤️ you.
However, that was Puljujarvi mucking it up in the front of the net giving RNH room to get that shot off!
— WheatNOil (@WheatNOil) December 17, 2018
He’ll be left with a normal sized tongue. It’ll be horrible.
— WheatNOil (@WheatNOil) December 17, 2018
These penalties, man pic.twitter.com/UufDLWrBaU
— Chris Gordeyko (@TheNationChris) December 17, 2018
In this week’s episode, Chris unveils the absolute worst way to eat a bowl of Shreddies in the morning and tries to defend his horrible life choice. After recovering from the disaster that is Chris’ cereal routine, the boys dove into a recap of the overtime loss in Winnipeg from Thursday night. Considering the way the game ended, we discuss the goalies and the maddening trend of people trying to trade away Talbot when the reality is that the team could run with a pair of competent goaltenders.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/16/2018 – 10:45 pm MST